EquusPhoto Q&A

I'm awful, I know, I'm so good at organising other peoples blogs and social media, but apparently awful at my own...think it must be to do with hating to shout about myself!?


I asked my followers on Social Media to send me any questions they had about Photography, photoshoots, cameras...to be honest, literally anything! So lets get straight into answering some of those questions:

How to get the best out of a 'non professional' camera?

Technology has come so far that you can pick up a very reasonably priced camera and still be able to achieve stunning images! The most important thing, with any camera is learning what settings youve got. Generally a cheaper camera will actually be a lot simpler to use than a top of the range DSLR. If you have a camera that has 'modes' such as 'sport', or 'landscape' etc, then things can be fairly self explanatory. These modes are great and as I said previously, you can achieve some beautiful images just using these presets. Once you have got to grips with this and want to progress further, start playing with manual mode. This gives you full control of what the camera is doing...

  • Shutter Speed = How quickly the camera 'takes the picture'. The faster the horse is moving, the faster you want this

  • ISO = How much light the lens is taking in. On a dark day you will want this higher. A lower shutter speed lets in more light, higher shutter speed lets in less. Have a play around to see what works best and to find the fine line between the two. Higher ISO may lead to your image being slightly grainy, unforutnalty the higher end cameras are much better at dealing with this, and you do often get what you pay for...

  • F Stop = Regulates the amount of light that can pass through your lens at a particular shutter speed. The lower the number the wider the aperture. Aperture also affects your depth of field. Lower aperture = lower depth of field. Shutter speed and aperture play a big part in getting that elusive 'blurred' blackground.

Generally the best way to get the best out of any camera is to keep taking photos, this is what will help you understand the camera and how it works in various situations. Play around with lighting, play around with wide and zoomed in images, JUST KEEP TAKING PICTURES!

Few top tips:

  • Straight Horizens and non distracting background - try to photograph straight or change in post production and keep the focus on your subjects!

  • Get your horses attention...happy ears = happy photo

  • Try and photograph the 'correct' part of each stride. You can make any horse (even Valegro) look very odd and unflattering just by taking a photo at the wrong part of the canter. I will give you some tips on this below...

Walk - Aim for the back leg to be as far under the body as possible, back down, shoulders up. (OBVIOUSLY had to use the Queen of walk for this example!)

Trot - Either aim for the moment of suspension (all legs off floor), or for the front leg to be extened and opposite hind with some bend in!

Canter - There are a few different ways to capture canter, and riders sometimes prefer different things, but generally you are aiming for uphill! Which means hind leg under the body, towards the girth, and front legs/shoulder up! You can either capture the bloew image with one front leg on the floor (See photo of Lizzie and Wigs), or with slightly more uphill horses you can more easily get an image of both front legs up (See images of Ashleigh and Dougal)!

Gallop - Again there are a few different ways to capture this, you can display the speed in many different ways, as you can see with the image of Imogen Murray, I am zoomed in close, focusing on her face. You can feel the speed without seeing Ivar Goodens legs. With the image of Rose and Rory, its more of a 'standard' event shot.

Can you make me look prettier?

It makes me so sad that this is a regular question I receive. Not necessarily in this format but often as 'can you make me look thinner (often said as a joke to be honest!)' 'Do I have to be in the pictures?' 'Can you photoshop out (insert insecurity)'.

Technically, yes I can, anything is possible on photoshop. BUT in most circumstances no I wont! One thing I always say to clients is that these photos are for you, you dont have to put them up on social media for everyone to see, if you dont want me to put them on my facebook page, thats absolutely fine too! The images I capture are about memories, think about how you will feel looking back at these images 5-10years from now...will you be noticing all your little insecurities or will you be fondly reminded of your beautiful horse and how they made you feel? I hope its the latter. Of course, if you have some angry spots you really want taken out I can 100% do that, those are things that come and go naturally, but I wont change you into a different person on photoshop.

If you dont want to be in the photos, I can accomodate that too, there is alot we can do with just your horse, but I do encourage you to bring a change of clothes incase you change your mind...most clients do! Unfortunatly animals dont live forever, I love the photos of my old pony and I where we are pulling funny faces or where I dont look great, beacause as I said above, its all about the memories and the emotion.

What kit do you use on a day to day basis? Do you think having really high end equipment is necessary?

On a normal shoot I use a Canon 5DMkIV with a Canon 70-200 2.8 IS USM. I do have an extra body (Canon 70d) and short lens, though they rarely get used to be honest! I dont think you necessarily need to have high end equipment, but it depends what you want to do! I'm not going to lie and say you can get the same results with a £200 camera as you do with a £3000 camera, because if you could, there wouldnt be the huge price difference! But if you just want to take photos of your horse or play around with taking photos in general then whatever you can afford is great, its about learning how your camera works and what settings get good results. If you really want to get a 'better' camera, look at the second hand market, companies like MPB, London Camera Exchange and Wex will give all their second hand cameras a condition rating to make things easy. Generally you will be told the lens is more important than the body which is often true, so if you feel like you want to upgrade your set up but cant afford a new body, have a look at differnt lenses, the differance can be huge! Once you start on the photography journey, upgrades and getting extra equipment can get a bit obsessive sooooo YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Favourite horse/person you have photographed?

Hmm this is a hard one! I enjoy every single photoshoot for different reasons. I love meeting new people and horses!

Meeting Sophie Christiansen and photographing her and Harry was amazing, she is so inspirational and it was so interesting getting an insight into para dressage!

Claire Wheel's shetland Viking was so fun to photograph, his portrait came out pretty perfectly and he was such a little character.

Becca Daisy had the most fairytail lighting for her photoshoot, havent had anything like it since to be honest! Becca looked absolutely stunning too!

Photographing Alice Goring, Finley and Teddy the Shetland (and his little fans!) is always a pleasure too! I love the Goring family, they have always been so welcoming and kind to me and obviously photographing Teddy, the King of instagram is pretty special too!

How do you photograph in indoor arenas? Your photos from the Abi Lyle Clinic were so clear!!

Practice practice practice! Trial and Error! Lots of swearing and lots of frustraition!

Its finding that fine line between shutter speed and ISO...Also try and look for shafts of light coming in, as you may have noticed about those particular images, many of the shots are in the same part of the arena, that was deliberate to make sure I was utilising the light I had! It may be throwing some funky shadows, but personally I think this adds to the images in a positive way.

It can be a really frustrating part of photography and is also unfortunatly the one area where I would recommend considering an upgrade of camera and/or lens if you really feel like you cant progress.

How are Black Background photos created? Are they difficult?

Black Background images are usually created in the entrance to a stable or barn. They are difficult, and I still havent perfected them. You want the face of the horse with lots of light on it, but the body to fade into black. When the lighting is on your side this is really easy and I will barely have to do anything on photoshop. Other times, it can be harder and I still havent 100% figured out my method, I dont use lighting so again, its just pracitce and some photoshop magic.

How did you get so good?

Practice! I have never been trained, never taken any classes, and I hate to admit this but I have never read the manual for any of my cameras! The more photos you take, the more you learn. To be honest, I still have huge confidence issues with my images and I am horrifically self critical. I think thats why I struggle with promoting myself, I still feel like a bit of a fraud...

Do you tend to have themes for your photoshoots or just casual?

Totally depends on the client! Some clients approach with with a complete idea of how they want their shoot, they might have a theme in mind and they send me examples of images and show me their pre chosen outfits, some have no idea at all, or just want a casual shoot of them and their horse! Either is completely fine.

Weirdest thing you've ever photographed?

To be honest I havent done that many weird shoots! Some of the methods people use to get their horses ears forward can be a bit 'weird' though! We have had hunting horns, crisp packets, people throwing brooms and brushes, people making farm animal noises, anything goes!

Dream Photography session? Location, choose 2 famous people and 2 famous horses, dead or alive!

Oh my word, firstly, props to Amber Major for this AWESOME question! This is so so hard. I wouldnt say this is necessarily my DREAM session but just people and horses I would love to shoot.

Location - Maybe a castle with some really nice gardens? Would love to do a mix of golden hour images and some others playing with light and shadows.

People - Carl Hester is just awesome and hopefully he could teach me how to dressage in the 2 hr session haha! Tim Stockdale would probably be the other....He inspired me so so much as a child and all I wanted to do was ride like him and be a famous showjumper (how things have changed!), I would love to just talk to him about his life. Or maybe a Ballerina would be cool in terms of final images!

Horses - Valegro because hes STUNNING! Then maybe Darco? He is Maxi's grandad so it would be great to see him and talk to his handler to find out how similar they are. Or maybe Northern Dancer, again because of the Maxi relation, and racehorses are a dream to photograph in terms of the fine lines and popping veins etc.

Gosh this questions hard!

Okay, this has been an unecessarily long blog, so I will stop it there for today! If you have ANY questions though, I'm always happy to answer them!

Emily xx

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